It’s finally that time of year where winter has released us from her icy grip and summer in all its hot glory has arrived! Along with the heat comes the desperate need to beat it, and one of the best ways is with cool water. Whether that’s running through sprinklers in the backyard, swimming in your local swimming pool, or paddle boarding down the river, water is an excellent way to recreate during the summer.
As always, safety is the best policy when it comes to water, especially with the record snowpack making its way down the mountains this year. Here are some tips for staying safe in and around water from a former lifeguard Supervisor, water safety instructor and current mom of four.
1. Sunscreen and hydration! Protecting your skin and staying hydrated are the easiest and best ways to ensure you have a good time in the water. Heat exhaustion and sunburns can sneak up on you, turning a fun outing into a miserable time quickly. Reapply your sunscreen every other hour or so, and be sure to drink frequently throughout the day, making sure to get electrolytes as well as water.
2. Choose your swimwear carefully. For children, stay away from light colored swimsuits, especially blue because they all but vanish in the water making them harder to spot. Bright colors like neon green, yellow, and orange are easiest to see both above and below water adding another layer of protection. Also, take into account the temperature of the water; speed of the water, how long you plan to be in it, and the possible debris in the water you plan to spend time in. A regular swimsuit is just fine for an afternoon at the local pool, however you might want to reach for a wetsuit or rash guard top if you plan on paddleboarding in a reservoir filled with snow runoff to conserve body heat and protect your skin from sticks, fishing hooks and other manner of randomness that came down the mountain.
3. Use the buddy system! Making sure everyone has a buddy and checking in regularly is a great safety measure. Even the most proficient swimmer can run into trouble especially on a year like this one where the water of many popular recreational spots is running faster, colder, and even deeper than usual. Having another person to back you up and get help if needed is invaluable. Solitude is great, just not in water.
4. Be informed. Information is power. Before you go out recreating in water, take the time to learn about the place you’re going. Check the forecast to be sure you’ve picked a good day to be in or around water. If you’re going to a local swimming pool, do they have requirements or restrictions on things like flotation devices or swim diapers? For open bodies of water, be sure to check the water level, speed, and temperature to make sure you’re prepared and stay safe. If your aquatic activity requires flotation devices, use them, if your aquatic activity strongly encourages flotation devices, have them on hand and use them. Nothing should come before safety, not even a double dog dare or summer fashion.
Above all, just think safety first and then have fun out there! Summer doesn’t last forever so enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool, reservoir, or lake while you can. Have a safe summer ya’ll!